About Johnston Canyon Bow Valley Parkway
Johnston Canyon was caused by erosion of limestone rock as Johnston Creek, a tributary of Bow River, empties into the Bow River. Over thousands of years, the erosion has formed gorges and waterfalls.
The main activity of Johnston Canyon, is the hike, which takes one along the waterfalls, lime stone rock tunnels & caves, steep canyons and blue-green pools at the end of the hike.
What to do at Johnston Canyon ?
The main activity at Johnston Canyon is the hike to lower falls, upper falls and ink pots. Open up your senses and experience the sounds, sights and smell the canyon has to offer.
- Walk the interpretive , 1 km hike to Lower falls over paved trails, tunnels and catwalks, that is built onto the canyon walls.
- Experience the thunderous roar of nature as the water rushes through the gorge as you walk to upper falls on the catwalk. Appreciate the mossy canyon walls, where algae grow.
- Hike to upper falls along the walkway winding paths and stairs. See the Johnston creek creating the mighty waterfall from the lower platform and sense the sheer drop of the 30 m canyon from the top-viewing platform.
- From upper falls, hike to ink pots, a series of greenish blue pools, caused by mountain springs bubbling to the surface. Appreciate the open green meadows and alpine scenery on your way to the inkpots.
- Watch out for wildlife like squirrel and birds like black swifts, dippers, and warblers. (especially in mornings and evenings).
Johnston Canyon in winter
The hike presents a different scenery altogether as snow covers the forests and the rocks. The sunlight causes the snow to glisten and sparkle, making the walk enjoyable. Wear good shoes with good grip/cleats (or with some thing like yaktrax) to prevent slip and fall.
Ice climb at the upper falls or just watch the ice climbers making their way up. Continuing further along is not advisable. Guided tours -‘ice walks’ are also available.
Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park is another ice walk location.
Who all can go to Johnston Canyon ?
Everybody. Dogs are also permitted.
How to get to Johnston Canyon ?
Johnston Canyon Location / Directions
GPS : 51.246578,-115.840838
The Johnston Canyon is located 25 km from Banff town and 33 km from Lake Louise on the Bow Valley Parkway.
If taking the highway (or if you are visiting during winter), Take AB-93N exit on TransCanada Highway/AB-1, turn right onto Bow valley parkway and travel for 6.2 km to reach Johnston Canyon.
The hike starts at the northern end of the parking lot. The hike to Lower falls is 1.2 km one way with 30 m elevation gain; to upper falls , a further 1.2 km one way & 30 m elevation gain. The ink pot trail is a total of 5.4 km hike (one way) with 215 m elevation gain.
How much to visit Johnston Canyon ?
Admission/Fees Johnston Canyon – Free, with National park admission.
When to visit Johnston Canyon ?
Johnston Canyon Hours
Year round. Day light hours.
Try to go as early as possible (around 7:30 to 9:00) or late in the evening (in summer months) to avoid crowds. It is also good place to see even while it rains.
How long will it take to see Johnston Canyon ?
Depending on interest, one hour to four hours.
What about Amenities, accessibility & parking?
Gift shops, & Restaurant at Johnston Canyon Resort.
Wash rooms .
Stroller & Wheel chair accessible till Lower falls. After that, there are a few steps.
It may be difficult to navigate with stroller during the busy tourist season.
Tips: Be prepared to get misted and carry a jacket if required.